Police intensify campaign against overloaded minibuses amid COVID-19
In light of the increase of COVID-19 cases in Guyana, several minibus drivers remain adamant in not observing the emergency measures implemented to tackle the deadly virus, and as such, Police are clamping down on those errant drivers.
One of the main measures in place is the curfew, between 18:00h and 6:00h on a daily basis.
Despite that measure, there have been a number of vehicular accidents across the country during the curfew hours; and in some cases, lives have been lost and persons have been left with severe injuries.
One measure that is being tossed aside by minibus operators is social distancing. To date, the operators continue to overload their minibuses, thus putting people’s lives at risk.
A few weeks ago, Police in ‘D’ Division (West Demerara/ East Bank Essequibo) arrested several drivers for breaching the emergency COVID-19 measure which requires them to use a mask when working.
On Thursday last, an East Coast Demerara (ECD) minibus driver and his conductor were arrested after a passenger posted photos of them carrying more than the number of passengers stipulated under the COVID-19 order.
Minibuses are now mandated to carry half the number of passengers they are licensed to carry, in order to allow for social distancing.
The gazetted order from the Public Health Ministry (MoPH) states: “Any person who provides transport within Guyana, whether by land, water or air, shall not carry in that transport more than half the number of passengers which the motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft is licensed to carry, and the operators and passengers of any motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft shall have personal protective equipment.”
According to the MoPH, persons who breach the stipulations of this order will be charged under section 152 of the Public Health Ordinance, and are liable, on summary conviction, to the penalty provided under that section.
Traffic Chief Linden Isles on Thursday told the media that the errant duo will be charged, but he is awaiting statements to determine what charges will be levelled against them.
Regional Deputy Commander for Region Four, Senior Superintendent Phillip Azore, has disclosed that the Police have arrested more than 40 persons for breaching the curfew. He posited that, to further enforce the curfew, there are several strategically placed roadblocks.
“The reason for the roadblocks is to stop those persons driving on the road [after the curfew] and ascertain if there is any legitimate reason for them being on the road. If there is no valid reason, we ask that they proceed home immediately. If persons continue to breach the curfew, they will be prosecuted,” he stated.
Azore highlighted that the Traffic Task Force works during the day to ensure minibuses and taxis follow the 50 percent passenger rule. If they are found to have breached that rule, they are warned before an arrest is made.
The Guyana Police Force is calling on citizens to adhere to the emergency measures, while also reminding that anyone who fails to comply with the orders would be prosecuted.